Monday, June 30, 2008

Back online!

After a few days of intense rain and internet outages, we're back online. If we disappear for a few days at a time, stay with us! We'll be back as soon as the internet starts to work. The past few days have been extremely busy! We've been working with two separate teams from the US: LifeChurch from Minnesota and a combined group from Tennessee and North Carolina. So much has already been accomplished by these groups! Houses have been painted, the well is being fixed to ensure that we have enough fresh water, leaky roofs are being repaired and the kids are having a wonderful time with their playmates! Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we minister to groups from the US and the children at Shalom.

The photo is of Gabriel, our special friend from Colegio Shalom. Please pray for the children of Colegio Shalom who are suffering from developmental issues!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Orphan Resources International

One of Casa Shalom's parterning ministries is Orphan Resources International, a Pennsylvania-based group that provides resources to 44 orphanages in Guatemala. The organization recently donated over 44,000 pounds of milk to orphanges across the country! ORI works to supply food, clothing and hygine items to the neediest children in Guatemala. Check out their website and see how you can help support this wonderful Christian organization (watch the video - you may be able to spot some Casa Shalom kids!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some quality time at McDonalds

I recently had the chance to spend some quality McDonalds time with some of the teen girls at Casa Shalom (from the left: Florecita, Alejandra, Yennifer and Engma). Several of the 12 teenaged girls have spent the majority of their lives at Shalom and many of them are taking secretarial courses so they will be able to find jobs when the leave the home. They are desperate to learn English as it will give them a big advantage when looking for a job. I will start teaching English classes next week, but they have kept me busy by quizzing me on English vocabulary! Please keep the teens of Casa Shalom in your prayers!

PS - I discovered that many McDonalds restaurants here in Guatemala make deliveries to homes just like pizza chains!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25

Yesterday we picked up two brand new stoves, 2 new refridgerators and 2 new microwaves purchased by LifeChurch from Minnesota for the childrens' houses. Josh drove a pickup truck "Guatemalan style" loaded down with all of the appliances up the mountain to the home. There was lots of prayer on that ride home!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cowboy day!

Once a year, the youngest students at Colegio Shalom come to school dressed as vaqueros (cowboys) to celebrate Guatemalan heritage. Enjoy some photos and video from vaquero day!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Water park fun

We took all 56 children at the orphanage to a water park 1.5 hours away yesterday. What an experience. Most of the younger children had never been to a pool before, so they had just a great time. The kids played so hard that it was a very quiet ride home!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

56 new bathing suits + 56 new pairs of sandals = 56 really excited kids

Yesterday, we had Part 1 of the adventure of a lifetime. A former director of Casa Shalom is visiting and decided to take all 56 children at the oprhanage to a water park a few hours away. The problem was that none of the children had bathing suits and very few had adequate sandals. So we loaded all of the girls into a van to go shopping (Guatemalan girls are just as picky about their swimming attire as North American girls so they wouldn't let anyone choose a suit for them!) An hour later, all the girls had a suit chosen and then we had to find dozens of suits for the boys. We were quite a sight - a group of gringos traipsing around the Guatemalan equivalent of Walmart with 56 swimming suits and 56 pairs of small sandals. We're leaving for the park in a little bit - pictures soon to come!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sorry for the lack of updates on the blog but the internet stops working when it rains - which has been every day so far! We arrived right in the middle of they rainy season, but it is giving up plenty of time to do some much needed painting inside some of the buildings. We are currently fixing up a house that will eventually be used for American missionaries. A few days ago, the future Casa Shalom nurse arrived for a week-long visit. She is a woman from the United States and is here to finalize plans for her expected arrival in September. Having a full-time RN at Casa Shalom will be such a blessing. Please pray for Christen while she raises funds for her trip. Enjoy another photo of the little ones - they LOVE having their picture taken. I think they all have a bit of movie-star syndrome! The two in this photo are Jose and Tony . Jose Marcelino (right) has two older sisters at the orphanage. They have 6 other siblings that were removed from their parents' home last week because the parents were prostituting Jose's 15-year-old sister. Tony (left) was brought to Casa Shalom when his mother tried to sell him to a lawyer for an illegal adoption.
Please continue to pray that God will give us wisdom to understand how to best serve the children of Casa Shalom!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18

After a whirlwind few days, we're settling in. We're adjusting to the near-constant rain - and not just any rain - monsoon rain! We're getting to spend lots of time with the children and their openness is amazing. Although many of them have been abused in one way or another, they are so open and loving. They form attachments so quickly! The litttle girl in this picture, Sarai, has started calling Josh "Dada."
Please pray for the children as some of them clearly exhibit signs of their difficult past. Pray that the Lord will heal their wounds and help them grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We have arrived!

We just wanted to let everyone know that we have arrived safely. Luckily, so did our luggage. We spent yesterday with a group from Tennessee as they threw a cake and ice cream party for the children. We are spending today unpacking and getting to know our surroundings as we prepare for the arrival of a group from LifeChurch in Minnesota, tomorrow. We will post photos soon. Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible for us. We appreciate all your prayers and support.

Josh and Jessica

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A 36-year-long Civil War...the root of Casa Shalom

Guatemala has the dubious honor of hosting the longest civil war in Latin American history. From 1960 until 1996, the country was torn apart from the inside as rebels fought to gain control of the government. Extreme right- and left-wing groups battled for power for decades and the toll on the civilian population was extreme.
Over 200,000 people died as a result of the war, and it is estimated that 80% of the casualties were caused by government forces. Over 83% of the victims were of Mayan descent (Mayas are the most prevalent indigenous group in Guatemala and are by-and-large extremely poor).

Casa Shalom was opened in 1987 by a pair of American missionaries in Guatemala City. One day, Dr. and Mrs. Rick Waldrop were walking in the city when they came upon a group of homeless children who were obviously uncared for and hungry. The couple took in the war orphans and began to open their home to more needy children, founding Casa Shalom. Out of the incredibe tragedy of the war came the blessing of Casa Shalom, where orphans and other needy children can grow and thrive in a secure and loving environment.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

5 days and counting....

Please pray with us as we begin the final countdown to our departure. We will leave this monday morning and are currently busy packing and sorting. Please pray for safe travel and maybe even that our luggage arrives with us :)

~ Josh and Jessica

Monday, June 9, 2008

An orphanage with a view

In the center is the basketball court/soccer field that's so popular with the kids. On the right (in green and yellow) are the boys' houses.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Good for the Sole

We recently heard about a great organization, Soles4Souls, that works to provide shoes for the needy, both domestically and abroad. According to the Soles4Souls website, over 300 million children worldwide have never owned a pair of shoes and their goal is to change that statistic by providing people with a new or gently used pair of shoes donated by shoe companies, churches, organizations and individuals. Here are some the places Souls4Souls sends donated shoes:


- Disaster zones, like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina
- Appalachian Mountain region
- Domestic abuse shelters
- Inner city hospitals
- Homeless shelters


- Landfills, where many people make their living sifting through the garbage to find reusable materials and food
- Orphanages in Africa, Australia, Asia, South and Central America and Europe
- Villages where women must walk many miles barefoot to collect their daily water supply

For more information or to learn how to donate shoes or funds to Soles4Souls, check out their website!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

STEM International

If you are considering take a short-term missions trip to Guatemala (or to anywhere else for that matter) take a look at STEM International, a missions organization that prepares new short-term missionaries for their first trip and seeks to develop the strengths of more experienced short-term missionaries. STEM, short for Short Term Evangelical Missions, has a wide variety of publications, training material and foreign-language resources available for those interested in preparing to minister in another country and culture. STEM also leads short-term missions trip around the world. Check out STEM and go prepared!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Crazy Starbucks Lady and the Tortilla Cook

A few days ago, I found myself in line at Starbucks behind one of those super-fun "half-caff, non-fat, no-whip, extra hot, extra foam" customers. I watched in amazement and a bit of trepidation as she placed her very detailed order which included...get this...a quarter pump....of a certain flavor. A quarter pump! Then after ordering extra foam, she decided there was too much and angrily ordered the poor barista to scoop off some of the foam. At the time, all I could think was "boy, I bet this lady's food gets spit in a lot!" I don't think I need expound too much on the lessons I took away from what I witnessed at the coffee shop. All too often, our own sense of entitlement and importance overpowers our goodwill and we become like the lady at Starbucks, angry and demanding when others don't fulfill our desires. I think our trip to Guatemala will teach us quite a bit about treating others with respect and dignity, as we will have that modeled for us daily. I am thinking of one particular elderly woman who spends 5 days a week making tortillas in the kitchen of the Casa Shalom cafeteria. Hour after hour, she grinds corn, forms tortillas and cooks them on a giant round grill. Its a hot, thankless job but she cooks with a smile, cheerily welcoming anyone who wanders into the kitchen. This lady is such a great example to all of us who have a tendency to put our own needs first and to those of us whose treatment of others varies based on our mood at the moment.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Kingdom of Comfort

Check out this song off of Delirious?'s new album. It's pretty powerful.

Title track: Kingdom Of Comfort

Save me save me

From the kingdom of comfort where I am king

From my unhealthy lust of material things

I built myself a happy home

In my palace on my own

My castle falling in the sand

Pull me out, please grab my hand

I just forgot where I came from

Save me save me

From the kingdom of comfort where I am king

From my unhealthy lust of material things

I rob myself of innocence

With the poison of indifference

I buy my stuff at any cost

A couple of clicks and I pay the price

Coz what I gain is someone else's loss

Save me save me

From the kingdom of comfort where I am king

From my unhealthy lust of material things

Save me save me

From the kingdom of comfort where I am king

To this kingdom of heaven where you are king

Written by Delirious? ©2008 Curious? Music UK

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Search for

We've found a really easy way to make a's called
The website is a search enginge powered by Yahoo Search and donates 1 cent each search to the searchers charity of choice. You're thinking "1 cent? What kind of difference can 1 cent make?" Well think of how man times a day you look up something on the internet....2, 3, 4 times - multiply that by seven days a week and it adds up. Here are some amounts raised by particular organizations this year alone:

The March of Dimes Birth Defect Foundation: $226.21
Compassion International: $719.80
Make a Wish Foundation: $225.02
World Vision: $487.81

Giving couldn't be any easier. Now go Goodsearch!